Entries tagged with “teaching” from Computer Science Department News

In the Fall 2011 semester, Prof. Guanling Chen offered a project course on developing Android apps, to prepare our students on programming skills for the fast-moving mobile industry. The course attracted many interests and accommodated 15 undergraduate and 14 graduate students. The students formed four teams, each working on a different group project.

The first half of the course covered the basics of the Android programming, and then students started to work on their projects for about 10 weeks. To meet the challenges of the diverse student background, each project group consisted of both graduate and undergraduate students and had at least one person who did Android programming before and owned an Android device.

The goal of the group project was to deliver a non-trivial app by the end of the semester. To manage the project development, the class adopted a mini-version of agile programming method that had three project iterations, each lasting three to four weeks. The idea was to make a workable app first and then grow it more feature-rich incrementally. For each iteration, each project group had to specify clear goals, the tasks to be completed, and who was responsible for which task. Each group delivered twice-a-week meeting minutes, daily progress “burn-down” charts, and a workable demo at the end of each iteration.

Through this software engineering process and the peer support of the groups, the students successfully completed four exciting projects with the theme of “doing good to society”:

  • The YouMath team produced a fun sports game that teaches kids math skills with different difficulty levels.
  • ThumbsUp took a different approach educating kids by creating a series of mini-games that tests math, logic, and memory skills.
  • The ParentGuard team aimed to help parents block certain apps on their kids’ devices, so they can ban age-inappropriate apps and won’t get surprising bills.
  • Tractivity team went after the goal of encouraging people to be more physically active by developing an algorithm to monitor the number of steps the user has taken (leveraging the built-in accelerometer) and integrating incentives, such as virtual walks.
The teams delivered their final projects and accompanying presentations during the week of December 5, 2011.

The full presentation slides, videos, and downloadable APK files for the apps are available at http://sites.google.com/site/umlandroidclass2011/.

Presentation from YouMath team. The playable Android app binary and similar presentation materials from the three other teams are available here.
In January 2011, Professors Jesse Heines and Fred Martin both traveled to India to teach courses as part of the Indo US Collaboration for Engineering Education. Heines and Martin were each accompanied by UMass Lowell undergraduate and graduate students.

The Indo US Collaboration for Engineering Education (IUCEE) was initiated in 2007 to improve engineering education and to “find solutions to the global challenges facing humanity such as energy, environment, health and communications.” It was established by Dr. Krisha Vedula, formerly dean of UMass Lowell's College of Engineering, and presently Special Assistant to Provost for International Partnerships.

As Executive Director of the IUCEE, Vedula recruited Heines and Martin to teach courses during the January 2011 semester break. Heines was introduced to the K.L. University in Vijayawada, and Martin was partnered with the Chitkara Institute of Engineering and Technology in Chandigarh.

Heines' course, Programming for the World Wide Web, was taught to approximately 280 university students, all enrolled in K.L. University. Martin's course, Introduction to Mobile Robotics, was taught to about 28 faculty of several member schools of the IUCEE, including about 15 faculty at Chitkara itself.

Both Heines and Martin brought UMass Lowell students to co-teach their courses. Heines brought undergraduates Zori Babroudi and Elad Shahar, and graduate student Sreeja Kaimal. Martin brought graduate student Mark Sherman.

Heines and Martin both reported that their course materials and teaching approaches received a great reception from their respective audiences, who were happy to participate in American-style education, with its high degree of engagement and discussion as a natural part of teaching and learning.

The contributions of the UMass Lowell students in conducting the courses were invaluable, and Heines notes that “to my great pleasure, some of the students are still corresponding with Zori, Elad, Sreeja, and me.”

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UMass Lowell graduate student Sreeja Kaimal discussing the course and life in the USA with K.L. University students

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Faculty testing their Sumo robot at Chitkara University

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